Should You Buy a House or Pay Rising Rent?

Rising urban rents, created by urban development initiatives, especially in major cities, may cause some people to relocate to the suburbs or to seriously consider homeownership for the first time. At its best, urban development creates business expansion, solid social and community infrastructures and easy access to public transportation and public services. Urban development can also put restaurants, historic sites and entertainment within walking distance. Those are the pluses.

Zoning laws can also entice developers to raise urban rents, impacting your cost of living, whether you rent an apartment or a house. And you said that you’d never move to the suburbs or buy a house before you’d saved a hefty down payment.

Save money when you move from renting to homeownership

It’s not only rising urban rents that may cause some traditional renters to think about buying a house. Low mortgage interest rates, growth in large New England cities and an increase in housing values can also make buying a house attractive. Even over a short term, opportunity to pay a $1,500 mortgage on a house you could one day own outright versus paying $2,500 a month in rent that could rise in another year can quickly look like the smarter option.

To counter rising urban rents, empower yourself with housing price negotiation tools. Types of housing price negotiation tools include:

  • Strong down payment (you may have to give yourself one to two years to save a good down payment)
  • Good credit scores
  • Flexibility regarding house type and location
  • Rewarding money management habits
  • Job stability
  • Knowledge about housing markets
  • Clarity around what you want in a house

The sooner you start building resources to use during housing price negotiation discussions, the more influence you may have on the overall price you pay for a house, including closing costs. Start early; be open to change and track your results.

Make yourself attractive to sellers and lenders

If you recently started a new job and only worked six to nine months at your two previous jobs, you may have more price negotiation power if you wait to buy a house until you’ve been at your current job more than a year. Signs of job stability can put you in a better light in the eyes of lenders.

Despite how long you’ve worked with your current employer, start paying debts down. For example, you could make larger payments on credit cards, starting with credit cards that have higher interest rates. If you have student loans in default, contact lenders and set up workable payment arrangements. Reduce spending on clothes, takeout food and other entertainment. Put this money in an account that you’ll use to grow your down payment.

Also, learn about current mortgage interest rates including different types of mortgages like adjustable and fixed mortgages. You could ask friends and consult local government agencies to find out what average property taxes are in areas you are considering buying a house in.

After you identify debts that you are going to pay off, where you want to live, the type of mortgage you want and the average property taxes in areas you’d like to buy a house in, compare the total cost of buying and owning a house to renting. Compare immediate costs, which would include the down payment, house inspection fees, realtor commissions and any travel costs, and long term costs of owning a house versus renting. You might find that it’s cheaper to buy a house versus renting, especially over the long term.

Mortgage Assistance Programs

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or someone who has previously owned a home at some point in their life, you most likely know how expensive buying a house can be.

Fortunately, there are many organizations who would agree and who seek to help qualified buyers. There are a number of programs available at the state, local, and federal level designed to help certain buyers purchase a home.

There are also a number of myths around these programs, such as what the term “first-time homebuyer” really means.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the programs you can look into to get help paying for a home.

Who Qualifies as a First-Time homebuyer?

Contrary to what it sounds like, you can still qualify as a first-time homebuyer if you’ve owned a home in the past. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been helping people achieve their goal of homeownership since the 1930s. The FHA connects first-time homebuyers with lenders if the buyer meets certain criteria. Those criteria are:

  • Someone who hasn’t owned a home in the time previous three years. This includes spouses.

  • A single parent who previously owned a home with a former spouse, or a “displaced homemaker” who has only owned a home a former spouse.

  • People who have only owned homes that didn’t meet building code or a residence not fixed to a foundation.

The way the FHA helps buyers secure an affordable home loan is by insuring the mortgage. This makes it safer for lenders to approve you for a better rate for your home loan.

Veteran, Rural, and Native American Loan Programs

Aside from FHA loans, you might also qualify for a VA loan, a USDA program, or the Section 184 Indian Home Loan program.

VA loans from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs help veterans secure low-interest loans with affordable down payments. They will also help repeat veteran home buyers who have had financial difficulties in the past such as foreclosure and bankruptcy.

The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program works similarly to an FHA loan in that the federal government insures the loan so that the buyer can receive a better rate and lower down payment.

This program is designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families. However, not every state is eligible for the loan.

The United States Department of Agriculture is another federal department that offers mortgage assistance. You don’t need to be a farmer or have agricultural aspirations to be approved for a USDA loan. Rather, these loans are designed to help develop rural areas by offering loans with no down payments.

State, Local, and Private Programs

Each state in the United States offers various buyer’s assistance and incentive programs. Be on the lookout for programs specific to your area to find low-interest rates and affordable down payments.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other companies work with lenders to create affordable lending programs throughout the country. Remember to shop carefully when dealing with private lenders and look out for hidden costs.

Places In Your Home You’re Forgetting To Clean

We all like a clean home. As many times as we go through our daily and weekly cleaning routines, our homes can still be dirty. There’s plenty of places in your home that you might be neglecting to clean. These places are germ breeders. Especially to help prevent the spread of cold and flu, it’s important to keep these frequently used areas germ-free. The good news is that cleaning often overlooked spots is very simple. We’ll tell you where you need to clean and how with the tips below. 

The Refrigerator Handles

While you’re preparing dinner, it’s very likely that you will need to open the fridge door more than once. You may surface clean the outside of the fridge, but often forget the handles that everyone grabs to get in and out of this appliance. You should scrub the handles down on a weekly basis with a mix of hot water and vinegar. 

Your Computer And All The Accessories

You probably spend a lot of time at your desk and at the keyboard of your computer. Think of the times you have spilled things, sneezed on your computer, or just plain sweat while sitting there. There’s a ton of germs breeding all around your computer and its accessories. Make sure you do more than dust your computer off. Take off the accessories and scrub them every so often. If you have a laptop, turn the unit off and use a damp cloth to wipe it down. 

Toothbrush Holder

While you probably remember to brush your teeth twice a day, you may not remember to clean your toothbrush holder very often. You can easily throw toothbrush holders right in the dishwasher. Also, boil the toothbrushes themselves in water for a few minutes every so often. This is especially important during times of cold and flu to keep viruses from spreading.      

The Faucets

The faucets are perhaps one of the dirtiest places in your entire home. Be sure that you’re cleaning the handles and the faucet itself on a regular basis. You can do this with hot water and dish soap (something that’s already nearby!) For a deeper, disinfecting clean, use a paste of baking soda and vinegar.

Coasters

These great little inventions protect your tables from having the finish damaged by glasses and cups. Without a cleaning once in awhile, they can build up residue and bacteria. Be sure to give them a once over with warm water and soap.  

Some other areas that could use cleaning in your home:

  • Light switches
  • Placemats
  • Cabinet handles
  • TV remotes
  • Coffee makers

While your home looks clean, you want it to be clean. By following these tips and by paying attention to the most used areas of your home, you’ll be on your way to a deep clean that avoids breeding germs.